Victorian Carpets

I found the following excerpt from Judith Flanders’s The Victorian House (2003).

A while back, I did a post about what the average middle-class Victorian household did with its trash and how they recycled everythingVery little got thrown away. This was obviously a good and practical thing, but it occasionally became a problem when one considers how difficult it was to clean some objects before we had things like vacuum cleaners, washing machines, dry cleaners, etc. As is evidenced by some Victorian narratives, things kept being used long after they probably should have been ditched, especially because (as I talk about in another post on Victorian dirt) the era was filthy in general.

Case in point: carpets. They were not only expensive, but also long-lasting. When it got a bit shabby or had fallen out of fashion, your average Victorian household wasn’t just going to bin the carpet, no matter how filthy it was.

Flanders writes, “Mrs Panton [a prominent Victorian home decor author], still distressed about bedroom carpets, remembered a carpet that had spent twenty years on the dining-room floor, ‘covered in holland [a hard-wearing linen fabric, usually left undyed. It was much used in middle- and upper-class households to cover and protect delicate fabrics and furniture] in the summer, and preserved from winter wear by the most appallingly frightful printed red and green “felt square” I ever saw.’

“When it was no longer considered to be in good condition, it was moved to the schoolroom, then demoted once more, to the girls’ bedroom. (Note that the schoolroom, a ‘public’ room for children, got the carpet before the children’s bedroom did.) After that, it was cut into strips and put by the servants’ beds, ‘and when I consider the dirt and dust that has become part and parcel of it, I am only thankful that our pretty cheap carpets do not last as carpets used to do, for I am sure such a possession cannot be healthy'” (7-8).

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One Response to Victorian Carpets

  1. Pingback: BizarreVictoria: Celebrating 4 Years | BizarreVictoria

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